One day in Queenstown was enough. Even then we wouldnt have been there only we had to find a replacement for our car. Queenstown is the self-styled adrenalin capital of an already extreme New Zealand. Every teen, wannabe-teen and -seen flocks here to spend every bean on bungee jumps, jet boats, sky dives, high wires and whatever happens to be the thrill ride du jour. I am sure Queenstown can be fun: if you can put up with the throngs of gap-year students, and are well heeled enough to score an adrenalin fix. Having just flushed US$500 down the toilet on a dodgy car, we had neither the money nor the inclination to join the towns exuberant youth on a headfirst plunge to shaking hands and empty pockets.
Wanaka came as a welcome relief. It has everything Queenstown has a stunning lake surrounded by perfect ski fields, adventure activities and a ton of climbing - but not at the same super commercialised break neck speed of the former. The town is perfectly epitomised by its cinema, the Paradiso. Like Wanaka itself, it is easy to relax into the Paradisos worn, student-flat sofas and to be dazzled by an array of diversions from cutting edge entertainment to the classics. Suffice to say Wanaka is chilled. In fact so chilled that even the ATMs are cool.
- Hi, what can I do for you today
- Get cash
- Ok got that, how much do you want
- Got that. Get ready here it comes
- Have fun
We arrived into Wanaka on a rainy day and the hostels kitchen was mayhem. The ski slopes were closed and the clatter of Japanese, there for the season, were ensconced in the kitchen preparing an almighty feast for that evening. The noodles, mixed, rolled and cut singly by hand. The beef tenderised for half an hour. The fish for sushi freshly caught. The myriad of vegetables cut into bit size pieces. The laboriously hand washed rice. All combined to make a mockery of my pasta and sauce, normally the envy of other backpackers.
The proprietor eyed up the two lads with their two-litre bottles. He wasnt going to be retiring on their custom, that was for sure. The lads stopped by the fill-your-own beer taps and checked out the prices. For two litres of common mans it cost US$3, but three litres cost just 30 cents more. They looked at each other, theyd be mad to buy two litres; three was just so much better value, but all they had were two-litre containers.
- Can you sell us a three litre flagon they asked the proprietor
- No, afraid I cant, none in stock
- When will you have them back in stock
- Mmm, couldnt say for sure, we havent had them for ten years at least
- What say we come back with a three litre container
<- No problem, as long it is an official flagon mind you, not just any container, but I think you have difficulty finding one.
- So how do we get one put an ad in the paper?
- People do, people do. So two two-litres it is then lads?
Boomer and his Rock Shoe Repairing Business
My long suffering pair of rock shoes had finally worn through and only a new layer of skilfully applied formula one rubber could save them from the great crag in the sky. There is only one person in New Zealand that repairs rock shoes and thats Boomer. Boomer lives just outside Wanaka, possibly the only place in the world where his chilled as f**k attitude blends in innocuously. I had dropped my shoes into him and was ringing to arrange collection.
- Can I collect my shoes tomorrow
- Sweet as, Im in work all day tomorrow so Ill just leave the garage open. There will be a pile of rock shoes there just take yours
- Er okay
you sure it is okay to just leave your garage open all day like that
- No worries, sweet as
- And the money I owe
- Oh yeah, sweet as, just leave that in the garage
- Right oh
- Sweet as
The Zone Café
A regular rock climber haunt sells mugs of roasted addiction and advertises itself as having same day service and all you can eat for as much as it costs
Our hostel, not having a TV, forced peopled to be social and friends were easily made. Evenings were filled up with dining, drinking, puzzles and a range of board games. No matter how anti-social you were it was impossible not to get sucked into something. We sat down to Balderdash, a game where you bluff other players with bogus definitions for obscure words. Some of the best definitions of the night follow one of them is the correct definition, you guess which.
Godwit a comedian specialising in religious jokes
Fenk prison slang for prisoners that clean the toilets
Idiolalla a disorder characterised by the subject speaking in a in a made up language
Meanwhile the Japanese have had half a beer and are drunk and falling off the backs of their chairs.